Threats & Promises

Tomorrow’s News Today: The Highs and Lows of the Music Scene in 2022

Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley of The Drive-By Truckers. Credit: Mike White.

Needless to say, the crystal ball over here at Flagpole got shattered about 18 months ago, along with everyone else’s. Even so, seeing as how we’re still committed to convenience and soothsaying, here’s your annual roundup of tomorrow’s news today. We rode into 2022 with a spirited, if trepidatious, gallop and this is what happened.

January: This is literally happening as you read this, so just look outside. The call is coming from inside the house. 

February: For the second year in a row, romantic partners of all stripes were stuck in the weird limbo of “will they or won’t they” as none could make solid plans to celebrate Valentine’s Day due to rolling closures. A few forward-thinking restaurateurs eschewed the now-common curbside pickup in favor of drive-by greetings. Patrons scheduled a specific time to slowly roll past different establishments and paid a premium to be fed by slingshot. 

March: This was the month when the sun poked its head out a little. That one promoter everyone knows kept trying to make spring happen by booking a steady onslaught of shows hoping no one noticed that the term “super spreader” only applies to events we don’t personally like. If it’s something we all dig, then it’s safe as pie. Everyone knows that. 

April: Fans from around the country piled into Athens for the annual Heathens Homecoming shows by Drive-By Truckers. Although originally slated for January, these rescheduled shows exemplified the band’s dedication to its fans and safety from COVID. While some who had originally planned to attend in January couldn’t make the new dates, those who did were pleased by the extra legroom. 

May: The University of Georgia celebrated the class of 2022 which, of course, included many music scene participants. Officials had been sweating who to book as an appropriate speaker, especially after the recent re-awakening of campus consciousness across the country. In the end, those at Sanford Stadium for the ceremony were treated to an uninterrupted screening of the “Donna Martin Graduates” episode of “Beverly Hills, 90210,” which is noted for both its theme of graduation as well as featuring student demonstrations. One unnamed official remarked, “This is the kind of thing that just makes people feel good!”

June: No fewer than three local bands announced tour dates this month. By month’s end, no more than one would publicly admit that it had been a bad idea that would take at least the rest of the summer to recover from economically. Nevertheless, each was edified by social media comments such as “Sick!” and “Have a rad time, bro!” Unofficial sources seemed to indicate that at least one bro did indeed have a rad time. 

July: Nothing happens in July, and 2022 was no different. A few folks stayed vaguely on top of things by asking questions like “When is AthFest?” and “Didn’t we just see The Pink Stones?” For the most part, townies and musicians just kept busy recording at home and collaborating through the internet, which distinguished them all in no particular way. 

August: Music fans prepared for the expected heat wave this month by securing five-gallon buckets for themselves. It got so hot this month that pre-gaming for shows now meant heading over to the Twice The Ice machine on Chase Street to fill one’s bucket before each event. This course of action would prove cumbersome, though, as local venues had to start hanging “no outside ice” signs. This has never before happened anywhere, so chalk up a new one for ol’ Athens.

September: This was the month that nearly every local musician performed a self-pat-on-the-back for being clever enough to post an Earth, Wind & Fire-based meme on the 21st of the month. Great job, y’all.

October: If the pandemic taught us anything, it taught us the King of Halloween (aka Timi Conley) would not be hindered by snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night nor anything else, and his Wild Rumpus event took place for its 100th time. While many participants could not be located for comment due to having been in disguise all weekend, those available were appreciative of having an opportunity to leave home, at least for a little while. 

November: Have y’all heard about Bandcamp Friday? The one day a month when the popular streaming site eschews its portion of income and gives it all to the artists? We were reminded of this phenomenon for the 500th time, and lucky local punters were able to sock away an additional 10 bucks or so. 

December: This was the year the local Christmas album came roaring back. Mimicking the tradition established by the now-historical annual Flagpole Christmas releases, a few local tastemakers got together to make a new album for 2022. Everything was recorded digitally, and in an attempt to be as historically accurate as possible, the album, Have A Dang Ol’ Christmas, Already, was released exclusively on cassette tape. No one seemed bothered by the fact that, no matter what anyone says, not a single cassette tape has been played anywhere in the world for at least 20 years.